Suspects vs. Prospects

The telephone rings… or maybe you get an email… It’s a human being who is potentially interested in your offering. A warm lead! Hurrah! But… are you sure this is a lead? Are you sure that it’s even “warm?”How much time have you (or members of your team) recently spent chasing after supposed warm leads that turned out not to be real opportunities at all? How much time have your (or members of your team) spent interacting with people who are “just looking,” “gathering information” or “needing to check with someone else for a decision”?

Prospecting is not getting easier… as a matter of fact, it’s getting harder. Prospects have shorter attention spans and a lot of options. In addition, there are only so many hours in the day one can spend looking for new business. It makes sense, then, to only spend time talking to people that are likely to buy whatever you are selling. Unfortunately, far too many sales professionals spend far too much time chasing after “inquiries” that turn out to be nothing at all.

I am indebted (and I am quoting) my friend and colleague, Bob Bly,, for these important definitions:

  • Suspect — anyone in the universe who could possibly buy your offering
  • Prospect — someone with the money, authority, and desire to buy your offering
  • Inquiry — a contact from a suspect
  • Lead — a contact from a prospect
Note the difference between “Suspects” and “Prospects.” It’s the difference between someone who might at some point in the future—maybe—will buy some teeny tiny little thing from you and some someone with the money, authority, and desire to buy your offering.Too many sales professionals do not understand these important distinctions. Just because someone calls you or sends you an email does not make them a prospect or a lead and it certainly does not make them, “warm.”

There are only so many hours in the day. Spend them wisely.

About The Authour

Wendy Weiss is the creator of the Salesology® Prospecting Method that generates predictable sales revenue. She is an author, speaker, sales trainer and sales coach and is recognized as a leading authority on lead generation, new business development and sales.

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